Natick Touts ‘Ironman’ Milestone just posted an item in the Army news section that highlights the results of Natick’s forward operational assessment of the Large Capacity Ammunition Carriage System, also known as “Ironman.”

The article states that Ironman began during a discussion between members of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, about how three-man, crew-served weapons teams struggled to stay together during engagements with the enemy while negotiating difficult terrain. Wouldn’t it be nice, someone said, if they had a one-man weapon system like the one actor Jesse Venture had brandished in the movie “Predator”?
The Guardsmen built their own prototype using discarded ammo cans welded together and strapped to an old ALICE frame. They handed over the prototype to Natick’s Quick Reaction Cell.

To date, approximately 100 of the Ironman prototypes have been sent to Afghanistan for use with the M240B machine gun.

The system has been around for awhile; in fact, DT’s sister site Kit Up! covered some of the early controversy around it a couple of years ago.  (That post can be seen here.)

Just goes to show that everything’s relative in the world of military acquisitions, including the meaning of the word “rapid.”

  • Lance

    I do like it. Awesome backpack/ammo carrier. But way things are going solder will have to buy them themselves.

    • joe

      give me a break. the us military has been lighting cigars with $100 dollar bills since 2001.

      They have more bat man kit than they know what to do with.

      All other things being equal, the side with the simplest uniforms wins.

  • John moore

    “DT’s sister site Kit Up! covered some of the early controversy around it a couple of years ago.”

    Sounds about right for DT standards only afew years behind

  • Pave Low John

    So, Ironman + body armor + M240 + other assorted gear will weigh a grand total of, what, 90+ pounds? Hell, make it a nice round 100 pounds. Is weighing down the guys in the field even more than they already are really the smart thing to do? And where is that guy’s rucksack? Someone else going to carry his pack?

    But don’t worry, we’re bringing women into the infantry. They can carry the M240 and 500 rounds of 7.62, since they’re so gung-ho to go out there and embrace the suck. Idiots….

    • James

      Some of the women I’ve met so far are stronger and more talented than many of men I’ve served with.

    • D.W.

      I don’t see how your personal sexism is related to your genuinely good point on overloading soldiers…

      • Belesari

        Then your not thinking. Women have less bone and muscle density than men. They also have a slew of other problems which have lead to to alot of problems and making them-for some jobs- entirely unsuited and a problem in their own right.

        This ignores the problems that are so obvious like infertility or problems with infections in places we dont talk about…….never mind we talk about womens privates contantly on TV now.

        But then i wonder if women are told of that????

    • Papi1960R

      So with women in combat arms, who is going to hump this thing when they are on rear detachment for 9 months of a pregnancy and 3 months of maternity leave? And 50% will get knocked up hanging out with Infantry men, 95% if they get put with Cav Scouts. And you wont be able to hold them back on order of merit lists for schools or promotions with Feinstein, Boxer, Hagel and Obama on the case.

      • Woody

        There was these 3 women in the FOB I was at that were so fired to show the guys in their unit just how they could “hack it”….we had to build the perimeter, for the first 3 days they did well, after that they got slower and slower and after awhile all they did was bitch and finally were only standing in the shade and on the 6th day,,,totally quit, even the weakest guys (and there were many) never quit… effing way women will never “hack it” over the length of a tour….NO WAY!!….

    • oblat

      And we send these Neanderthals to fight an insurgency – no wonder we always lose.

      • Benjamin

        The person who sends a women in to do a man’s job is truely a neanderthal. Women need to be sent to jobs in the military where the average female will do as well as the average male in which there are many.

        The average guy is going to have a hard time carrying all that ammo that is in the Ironman pack.

    • Rob C

      You’d think that they would employ one those exo-skeletons which designed help soldiers lug something this heavy.

      • majr0d

        Batteries are hard to charge in the bush…

  • HGW

    35lbs of ammo.

  • riicky

    Can’t they just strap on the Hulc system, and have that on the back?

  • tiger

    So when do we get a man portable nuclear RPG like in Starship Troopers? I want to kill some bugs for the Federation……….

  • mpower6428

    im a civi , never served. so im go out on a limb here and say… any man who’s been shot at more then twice on patrol will be leaving this thing at the FOB.

    to be pigeon holed as the “fire power” man sounds like too much running and oh by the way, who’s carrying the rest of his stuff…?

    it just looks like the elimination of versatility (options).

    again, im just a schmuck.

  • IronV

    Wow. Saw this same concept illustrated in the 50s. For some reason I think it was in association with the development of the AR/M16 rifle…

    • J. J.

      Iron V is correct. Way back in the late 50s, when the Armalite M-16 came on the scene, and the military was trying to decide if they wanted it to replace the M-1 Garand, the Armalite company was tinkering with the possibility of the dogface carrying several hundred rounds (300-400) in a backpack; the ammo would feed thru a plastic tube to the firearm. The idea was discarded.

  • Nathan

    The concept is to pin down the enemy by unloading 35lbs of 7.62mm at them while your more unencumbered colleagues outflank them and tag them.

    Seriously, 35lbs is 500 rounds of uninterupted (without jamming) machine-gun fire. It would make for a serious argument against breaking cover.

    And we all know the type of military men whom would wear the burden, they’re more than capable of doing it. We also know that the entire reason behind squad-based combat is to share the load of equipment across the squad to perform multiple tasks and enable these types of weapon systems to become a force multiplyer.

    Good idea, good system.

  • majr0d

    Not mentioned in the article. Loaded with 500rnds the pack weighs 40lbs. Add body armor and the 28lb M240. Not for the weak hearted!!!

  • Papi1960R

    Get that Soldier’s Platoon Sgt, Platoon Leader, 1sgt, and Co right away. I wanna know why he doesn’t have a High-Visibility, Blaze Orange reflextive vest on right now? It dangerous out there!

  • Hunter76

    I’m not a fan of trying to maximize the weight a soldier can carry. Better to continue the development of carrier systems.

  • jake

    Until women can be drafted just like men they have no right to be in front line combat. Giving 99% of females a get out of combat free card is just plain stupid! If you want women in combat Obama then go all in! None of the special treatment BS.
    Btw, the Israelis found out the hard way in one of their wars in the late 60s that it was a terrible idea to have females in front line combat. They don’t allow females in front line combat anymore. Guess America will have to learn this lesson the hard way as usual.

    • majr0d

      It was the ’48 war.

    • ben

      Ironically the main reason the Israeli’s keep the female units as support is because the MEN couldn’t get their shit together.

      Guys were taking stupid risks every time there were female casualties which ended up causing even more casualties

      • crackedlenses

        What you are describing is men’s wiring and better half kicking in. The last thing you want are men that can treat women like they do other men……

    • blight_

      Apparently they have a small test unit. That said,

      “women […] have no right to be in front line combat. Giving 99% of females a get out of combat free card is just plain stupid!”

      Huh? Sentence one suggests women have no right to be in combat. Sentence two suggests giving women a “get out of combat free card” is stupid. You don’t get a get-out-of-combat card, the enemy finds you and shoots you and you shoot back.

      The whole phraseology “X in combat” is no longer clear. In the age of The-Enemy-is-Everywhere, everyone will have to fight and shoot. More accurately, it will be difficult to find women in the more physically demanding MOS’; independent of “combat” or “non-combat” status. It’s one thing to be an MP guarding a convoy, and another to be an infantryman. Both will get shot at or die.

  • Tad

    Imagine if this had gone through the entire acquisitions process, including bids and awards and the whole nine yards. It would have taken years to build and would have been over-engineered (but not necessarily well-engineered) and extremely expensive.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Some grunt some where is going to put that on his back and say: “Ain’t got time to bleed.”

  • EW3

    Be interested in the possibility of a M249 with 5.56MM ammo.
    The ammo weighs 1/3 that of the 7.62.

    Be nice to have 1000 rounds to support your friends.

  • So?

    Caseless ammo FTW!

    • Infidel4LIFE

      YES!! Hell why not? This can and will work.

  • split

    The natural course of action will be:

    A) Test it with units whom think it’s a great idea
    B) See that it doesn’t fit the mission (aka budget)
    C) So Try To Turn The Idea Into A Robot
    D) Scrap it
    E) Return to A

  • Jayson

    Clone Jesse Ventura and assign them the Ironman? Apparently he can handle it better than the average soldier as I’m reading through.

  • Will Leach

    Someone already mentioned 5.56, and thats a great idea for this kind of thing, but 7.62x.39 might be perfect for dropping weight a bit and still having some range, especially for suppression.

    Also, maybe a top loading bull pup machine gun could employ an irom man type system, I think that would be much less cumbersome, although that might impede vision too much on the periphery.

    • Will Leach
  • Bullpup and belt fed or high cap never really work the magazine would be under your arm prevening you from moving it in any other position. As for Comments about not wanting too lug the other guys pack with this thing the Gunner is carriering the ammo of what two guys and that three assistents so why not just have the two assistents split his persinal gear well he moves up as the gunner. they can pack a few traditonal ammo belts well he moves up with the large cap.

    • Will Leach
  • TOPGUN88


  • Speedy

    Hmm, looks like the ammo feed for a Games Workshop ™ Space Marine ™ with a Heavy Bolter ™.

    Hope they don’t sue the Yanks for stealing their idea.

    Also, why not put it on a lightweight drag trolley (Like the suitcases you see being towed through airports etc.) The wheels could be made to work on sand etc, and the operator could tow it along until it is likely to be needed, then put on his back?

  • William Elliott

    You know, the original films for the AR10 showed a system similar to this…with a much lighter rifle in the same caliber using the same linked system, and the capability of using magazines once the belt feed mech was removed. Just sayin…
    Its on Youtube. Just look up AR10 Promotional Material or something like that.

  • SFP

    How dare the Army design something themselves instead of hiring a contractor to do it. Somewhere there is a defense contractor’s CEO that won’t make over $10 million dollars this year because he didn’t have that contract to milk for hundreds of millions of dollars per year, dragging it out for at least a decade before deciding that it couldn’t be done in a cost effective manner.

  • Brian B Mulholland

    The weight of that setup certainly does make a nice argument for the M240B, doesn’t it?
    But everyone who is talking about HULC or similar systems has a point.

  • Staffmastergunnerysargeant
  • Surefire1

    Ok this is a great idea. I know it dosen’t seem like it but the SAW gunner normally carries 500 round of belts by him self in his ruck sack already. Then the assistant carries some and their m4 and mags of their own and a ruck sack.this makes it better no need for assist besides carry ammo. This makes more lead flying down range, less reloading, and if he’s not caring a ruck it would be easier to menuver around the field because the weapon itself weights I believe 36 pounds in front of you and 35 ammo pack behind you equals the load out I would love to be a SAW operator with this setup.